The current debate on health care reform in the United States is one that is clearly very politically charged. One problem with the way the issue is currently viewed is that people who discuss it tend to fall back on party-line ideals, such as small government or social welfare. While being consistent with one’s ideals can be a strength, we must recognize that the issue of health care in the United States is one that transcends these types of views. With over 45 million uninsured Americans, we must recognize that there is a problem and address how to fix it. We cannot simply say that the free market will fix the problem, because that is clearly not the case—for too long we have let insurance companies take advantage of our citizens and let people die in waiting rooms because they couldn’t afford insurance. No one likes it when the government has to step in and fix a problem, but this is one instance where it is clear that this action is necessary. The real question is how to do so.
President Barack Obama and many others have supported the so-called public option, a government sponsored insurance plan. Some have derided this plan as too much of a government intrusion into the market, and claim that this would destroy the health insurance industry. The most obvious problem with these attacks is that the government is not out there to run people out of business. Competition is good for the economy, and the public option is only intended for the people who could not get health insurance because the private companies would not let them, often for ludicrous reasons such as the pre-existing condition of acne. Most importantly, it would be ridiculous for the United States to mandate that people have a health insurance policy without actually offering a government-sponsored plan. Unfortunately, in order to court conservatives and moderate liberals, the Democratic Party has to give up on some of these plans. This is why it is of paramount importance that people stop viewing this as a party-line debate and start viewing it as a way to help the American people.
The U.S. government exists to protect the people. If we are letting many thousands of uninsured people die each year because some people reject an intervention as “big government,” something is very seriously wrong. We are not asking conservatives to be happy about this, because we are not either. If the laissez-faire capitalist system really worked as some imagine it does, then we would have nothing to worry about. But as policymakers and fellow Americans, we cannot continue to live in that fantasy world. The lives of real people are at stake, and helping our fellow citizens who are down on their luck is one of our core ideals as Americans. If people cannot get medical treatment when they need it most, then we as a country have collectively failed to do our job.
Please support health care reform so that those less fortunate than you can get help when they get sick, just as you would want if you were in the same position.